Report calls for implementation of public inquiry recommendations ‘without delay’

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and ARTICLE 19 Europe have called on the government to implement the inquiry’s recommendations “without delay” in a report published one year after the publication of the findings and recommendations of the public inquiry.

The report, titled ‘tackling impunity: lessons from the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia’, was compiled to assess the significance of the public inquiry “in the fight for truth, accountability and justice for Daphne’s assassination”.

In a statement, the two organisations highlighted how the report aims to spotlight the “vital role” civil society as well as international bodies have played in ensuring an independent investigation into the assassination was held.

So far, despite the public inquiry’s conclusions about how the state facilitated Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination by fostering a culture of impunity as well as hostility in her personal regard, no substantial legislative changes have been made. The government’s first reaction when the board’s conclusions were published was to deny the existence of the climate of impunity.

In February, following the Opposition’s unsuccessful attempt at passing 12 Bills in parliament based on the recommendations of the inquiry, the government set up a press experts’ committee to review its own batch of draft legislative proposals.

While the experts’ committee itself confirmed that its review of the proposals put forward by the government was completed on 1 June, the review remains hidden from public scrutiny since nor the committee nor the government published the findings.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, who set up the terms of reference of the committee, was found to be in breach of the terms of reference since he failed to publish the review in parliament ten days after it was officially passed on to his office.

“In Daphne’s case, an independent inquiry was deemed necessary given the reasonable concerns about the weaknesses of the rule of law in Malta, which were previously flagged up by European bodies, specifically with regard to the potential bias of state officials whose wrongdoing Daphne had repeatedly highlighted,” the statement reads.

The report also analyses the structure of the public inquiry itself, pointing out that any public inquiries which would be held in the future should be equipped with their own legal team, a team of investigators, and a personal secretariat.  The report praised the judges for their insistence on operating without interference.

Disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat had attempted to short-circuit it by appointing individuals who “were either State authority employees or had strong ties to the government”.

Generally, Muscat and his administration had resisted demands for an independent public inquiry, with the report describing how the Caruana Galizia family was forced to rely on its own know-how to build the campaign as well as pro-bono support from lawyers and international organisations.

The report also outlines the importance of the public nature of the hearings, which often exposed how government ministers and other high-ranking officials “were well aware of the glare of the public eye and attempted to spin proceedings to cast them in a positive light”.

As for assessing the progress the government has made on implementing the recommendations, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and ARTICLE 19 Europe repeatedly pointed out the government’s failure to do so throughout the report, calling on it to do so “in full consultation with all stakeholders”.

The organisations highlighted the main recommendations from the public inquiry board, referring to how the government did not even fully acknowledge the board’s conclusions and that “pro-government media, public officials and politicians continue their campaign of smears and denigration” of the Caruana Galizia family.

The report also refers to the fact that the press experts’ committee’s work remains shrouded in secrecy and the “persistent lack of political will” to prosecute corruption revealed by journalists. The Foundation and ARTICLE 19 Europe also criticised the government for failing to adequately protect journalists, who remain “at serious risk”.

The recommendation to include a specific reference in Malta’s constitution that enshrines the importance of media as the fourth pillar of democracy “has been excluded” from the government’s proposals, they further argued, noting that the government also did not include the right to access information as a constitutional right.

On this note, the report explicitly cites The Shift’s ongoing Freedom of Information (FOI) appeals in relation to government contracts dished out to Malta Today co-owner Saviour Balzan.

“The unprecedented appeals by some 40 government ministries and entities against a decision by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner that ordered the disclosure of information on public expenditure requested by The Shift are emblematic of these challenges,” the report states.

You can read the full report here.

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Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
14 hours ago

We are living in a failed state where good governance is concerned. It will take time for people to understand but the moment they realize, things will start to take a different shape, as long as the Opposition will be one to trust.

14 hours ago

Maybe it may sound a bit harsh but from my point of view ROBBER Abela with his mafia government gang has no business being in government.

They are selling Maltese souls to anyone who will pay enough, knowing that they own state television with lackeys who repeat every nonsense several times a day (just to get paid extra).

By the way my faith in the PN is in very narrow limits.

We need an even bigger united OUTSIDE PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION to push the crooks ahead even faster and if a (Prime) Minister runs away from the press, there must be no escape.

Francis Said
Francis Said
3 hours ago

A clear reflection of the dangerous state of democracy in our beloved Country.
Thankfully, there is Shift News and many other entities who have the determination to fight for our God given right to live in peace and tranquility, resulting in a better quality of life.
All people of goodwill need to give their full backing. We all deserve better.

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